NEW YORK — Canadian Kia Nurse was selected 10th overall by the New York Liberty at the WNBA draft Thursday night while A’ja Wilson was the top pick of the Las Vegas Aces.
Liberty selects G Kia Nurse (UConn), C Mercedes Russell (Tennessee) and G Leslie Robinson (Princeton) in 2018 @WNBA
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) April 13, 2018
Nurse, a Hamilton native known for her hard-nosed defence, was a standout at the University of Connecticut, where she won two national championships and this year’s NCAA Division 1 defensive player of the year award.
Nurse, 22, averaged 13.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the Huskies this season.
The six-foot guard has also been instrumental in Canada’s consecutive gold medals at the 2015 and 2017 FIBA Americas tournaments and its first-place finish at the 2015 Pan American Games.
The Aces, meanwhile, bolstered their frontcourt with the addition of Wilson, who was a star post player at South Carolina. The Aces, who moved to Las Vegas from San Antonio this past winter, had the first pick for the second straight season.
Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell went second to the Indiana Fever.
The Chicago Sky took Diamond DeShields, who spent the season playing professionally in Turkey, and Gabby Williams of Connecticut with the next two picks. UCLA guard Jordin Canada was selected fifth by the Seattle Storm.
Azura Stevens, who decided to forego her final year of eligibility at UConn, was taken sixth by Dallas. Washington drafted Ariel Atkins of Texas seventh. Victoria Vivians went eighth to Indiana.
Los Angeles drafted 19-year-old Russian star Maria Vadeeva with the 11th pick. She’s the first foreign player who didn’t play at an American college to be taken in the first round since 2012.
Marie Gulich of Oregon State was drafted by Phoenix to close out the first round.
UCLA’s Monique Billings was the final player invited to the draft to be taken. She went with the 15th pick to Atlanta. The Dream had traded for that pick earlier in the day sending Bria Holmes to the Connecticut Sun.
— WNBA (@WNBA) April 12, 2018
The draft was held at Nike’s New York headquarters. The athletic apparel company is a global partner and outfitter for the WNBA this season. They unveiled the new WNBA uniforms earlier Thursday.
Training camps open up on April 29 and the 22nd season of the WNBA begins play on May 18.